prayer

It’s Time For War

war

This is the tenth post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


As we move closer to transitioning the Garretson Campus to an independent church, I have noticed the subtle effects of spiritual warfare have been magnified. Small disagreements threaten to bring division, obstacles appear to be impossible to overcome, and discouragement attempts to reign over my thoughts.

God reminded me of a truth this week that has placed things into perspective: We are overthrowing the dark forces of evil in this community and we must expect resistance. It’s time to fall on our knees and storm the gates of hell with the weapon of prayer.

Jared Wilson explains what happens when the kingdom of darkness is pierced by the light of the Gospel:
“The Devil is like a rat in a jar that is filling with ether. We should expect that as his death gets ever-nearer, he will beat his claws more furiously against the glass… As the Gospel takes over your ministry and the kingdom of God grows in your church like yeast in dough, you can expect that our enemy will not go quietly.” 

As we enter into a season of warfare, here are three principles we must keep in mind:

1. People are not the enemy.
Even if people are the source of persecution, insults, or division – we must never attack the person as if they are the enemy. Paul makes it clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood, instead it is against the powers of darkness that wreak havoc in our communities (Ephesians 6:12).

We must rejoice when we are insulted, persecuted, or slandered. When this happens we know that our reward will be great for we are experiencing the same thing as the prophets and apostles who have gone before us (see Matthew 5:11-12). In retaliation for the offense, we must not be overcome with evil but rather overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

2. We fight FROM victory not for victory. 
When David conquered Goliath, the war was already won. The once trembling and fearful Israelites overwhelmed the Philistines and slaughtered them (1 Samuel 17). In the same way, Jesus has already disarmed Satan and all of his demons by triumphing over them through the cross (Colossians 2:15).

We are invited to follow our Warrior-King into battle – knowing that the victory is already secured. Satan may let out a furious scream but the ether of the Gospel will suffocate his power. We do not need to fight for the victory because the victory has already been achieved through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

3. Our weapons will demolish strongholds.
Every community – especially rural ones – have demonic strongholds of addiction and false religion. These fortresses seem insurmountable but we must remember the weapons God has entrusted to us. We do not wage war with bullets, fire, or bombs. Instead, our weapons have been infused with a divine power to demolish strongholds, arguments, and every pretension that sets itself up against Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Friends, commit to the Scriptures and prayer daily. We must renew our minds so that we do not conform to the toxic pattern of this world (Romans 12:1). If we submit our lives to God and resist the Devil he will flee from us (James 4:7). We must battle by laboring in intercession for our families, communities, and churches in order to crush the ugly face of the ancient serpent.

It’s time for war.

 

Goodbye Facebook.

FacebookGOodbye

I recently returned from a prayer retreat at St. John’s Abby. It was INCREDIBLE. Here is one of my journal entries from the trip… including one major change I am making in my life.


One of the reasons I embarked on this retreat was to wrestle with my use of social media. Although social media is not inherently wrong, it is exceedingly dangerous for the idolatrous soul of man. I have discovered in my own heart that the primary reason I engage in social media is to exalt myself. I desire to appear wise beyond my years & an expert in spirituality. I justify this with the claim that I am building a personal platform in order to gain greater influence for the Kingdom of God. Although this very well may be a proper motivation for some, I am afraid it is too often a smoke screen that hides the poison of pride.

Therefore – by the power of the Holy Spirit – I resolve to refrain from creating statuses, posting comments, or even scrolling through my newsfeed for the rest of 2017. I will only use the message feature for the pure reason of communication with those whose emails I lack. 

For the purpose of accountability, I will share this journal entry with my wife, staff, spiritual leaders, and through my website that many of my church members subscribe to. 

The Invisible War

theinvisiblewar

If you are a Christian, you are enlisted into an invisible war. When it comes to warfare, we need to develop tactics in order to be successful in the various skirmishes we will encounter each day. In order to better equip you for this, we will be spending time over the next few weeks to discuss spiritual warfare.

One of the most insightful passages on spiritual warfare was written by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20. In the beginning of this section, Paul briefs us on the type of enemies we are facing –

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

Specifically, I see three principles in this passage:

1. We are in a battle.
Many people believe the lie that when one becomes a Christian, life gets easier. The opposite is true the majority of the time. When you claim the name of Christ, there is a beast – his name is Satan – who wants to utterly crush you. His goal is to destroy every ounce of faith that resides within your soul. If you refuse to fight against this enemy, you will be thrown into ruin and torment.

2. The war is invisible.
The cohort of demons we fight against are entirely “other”. They rule over the unseen world which is all around us. Although we cannot see the physical appearance of our enemies, the effects of their warfare are visible in the destruction of churches and Christians around the world. They are fallen angels which have been cast down from the throne room of God to wreak havoc on the earth for a limited amount of time.

3. The enemy is incredibly powerful.
If we attempt to wage this warfare in our own strength, we will be utterly demolished by the great power of our enemies. As fallen angels, these evil spirits wield immense power to crush mankind. Those who foolishly rise up against the demonic world without the power and presence of Christ are destined to be annihilated by the mighty powers which rule the unseen world.


Over the next few weeks, we will be tackling the following questions:

  • How do we successfully wage war against this enemy?
  • What kind of weapons are available to us since the enemy is invisible?
  • What are specific tactics we can use to wage war offensively?
  • How exactly does the enemy fight against us? What weapons do they use?

My prayer is that this series would strengthen your faith, equip you for battle, and enable you to persevere in the midst of brutal, spiritual attacks against your faith.

Enjoy the post? Be sure to check out Part 2 – The Battle for Your Mind.

Behind the Song: Pray For ‘Em

pray for em 2

Undeniably, one of the major themes of the New Testament is praying for our enemies. Repeatedly, Jesus calls us to pray for and do good to those who persecute us. Although this teaching permeates all of Scripture, Christians fall short of this standard on a regular basis – myself included.

I believe a biblically faithful definition of an enemy is someone who is hostile towards you in thought, word, or deed.

When we are hurt by another person, we want to take revenge. Often, we are blinded by our rage and immediately strike out against the other person with poisonous words. We gossip and slander, hoping that our speech has the power to torment the person who hurt us.

My recent song, Pray For ‘Em, was inspired by the remarkable words Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus regarding forgiveness.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

In order to fully understand this verse, we need to ask – HOW has God forgiven us?

Throughout Scripture, especially in the book of Romans, we see that mankind is depraved. Not only do we rebel against God, we are unable to even desire to please Him due to our sinful nature. Ultimately, we are born into this world as transgressors with consciences that have been dashed to futility by our sin.

Paul writes elsewhere that while we were yet ENEMIES, we were reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Christ. (Romans 5:10).

You have offended, hurt, and maligned God far more than any human has done to you.

In the midst of our wickedness, Jesus lived the perfect life you and I CANNOT live and died a brutal death we DESERVE to die so that we can have eternal life. If we are to forgive others the same way God has forgiven us in Christ, then there is absolutely no room to hold bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness in our hearts.

I pray that the Holy Spirit would use the Scriptures and my song below to free you from the cold chains of rebellion.

(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will need to go to the actual page to hear the song.)

Verse 1 [Tyler Ramsbey]
Hurt people hurt people I remember that
So you can sling that dirt but Imma settle back
I know that it hurts but I will never grab
After my reputation cuz I’m dead to that
In other words I don’t need your applause
I don’t seek to please people I serve God
So Imma pray for you while your anger burns on
Even through the malice I promise that I will stand strong
I don’t think you get it well listen in for a moment
Understand my heart was frozen until my King overthrowed it
My entire life was broken deserving death I was hopeless
With every breath I was choking provoking the God who wrote it
I didn’t think I’d make it out alive
Till I heard about the God who willingly died
Took my sin upon the cross and given me life
I forgive cuz I’m forgiven I live in the light

Chorus [Sean Divine]
Sometimes we ain’t on the same page
We see it all a million ways
Our lives so different
In the end we’re just the same
You can throw dirt on me
Question the direction about my dreams
All Imma do is pray for em (pray for em)
All I can is pray for em (pray for em)

Verse 2 [Tyler Ramsbey]
I deserve death but He gave life
So with every breath Imma state my
Praise and adoration to the Most High
Let the jokes fly with all of the broke lies
Cuz I know in no time my God will crack the whole sky
And So I keep on praying if I’m persecuted
Father they don’t know what they are doing
I was once like you being influenced
By the god of this world all while my sins spewin
But He came and He changed me He went through it
Took my shame and the pain while I was still moving
Further from His presence but He still led me straight to Him
Uh, So who am I to hold a grudge
I’ve been forgiven for living with all my broken lust
I’m amazed at the grace that is holding us
See we forgive because we’re sick and yet we know His love

Chorus [Sean Divine]
Sometimes we ain’t on the same page
We see it all a million ways
Our lives so different
In the end we’re just the same
You can throw dirt on me
Question the direction about my dreams
All Imma do is pray for em (pray for em)
All I can is pray for em (pray for em)

Verse 3 [Tyler Ramsbey]
Uh, We need to rise above
Unforgiveness in your heart will make you die to love
You will be chained by the pain and it won’t lighten up
Until you free your soul, with the finest touch
Look, let us start an insurgence
So we can pray for the people who would burn this
Let’s take the values of the world and turn them
All the way around with sound love and purpose
If they hurt you let it turn to worship
Reflect Christ cuz your life has been purchased
And plus you didn’t earn this… So let your burdens
Fall to the Wordsmith and call on His Holy Name
No matter what they say, go ahead and show His fame
We gotta love our enemies until they know the same
Grace that we’ve tasted I pray this is getting through
Forgive others the same way He’s forgiven you

Chorus [Sean Divine]
Sometimes we ain’t on the same page
We see it all a million ways
Our lives so different
In the end we’re just the same
You can throw dirt on me
Question the direction about my dreams
All Imma do is pray for em (pray for em)
All I can is pray for em (pray for em)


Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the song, be sure to share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!

The God of the Ordinary

God of the orindary

When we think about God, our minds naturally drift to extraordinary events and supernatural power. There is nothing bad about this. All throughout Scripture, we see the Lord of the universe bending natural laws to flood the world with His incredible love.

Many people are desperately hungry to experience a supernatural move from God. We buy conference tickets, attend megachurches, go on mission trips, and try everything we possibly can to “experience” Him. First of all, let me state that none of those are inherently wrong. Conferences are good, large churches are good, mission trips are good. The flawed thinking presents itself when we forget to look for God in the ordinariness of life.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the God who reigns above the universe, open your eyes to the God of the ordinary!

1. God is revealed in creation.
Ultimately, everything that is created points to the beauty of a creator. When you marvel at an incredible piece of music, you gain a sense of awe towards the artist. In the same way, as we behold the indescribable beauty of creation, our hearts should be moved to a place of worship towards the God who made all things.

King David reflects on this truth in Psalm 19:1-4
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the earth.”

As you feel the soft breeze wash over your face in the morning or gaze at the beauty of a sunset, let yourself be reminded of the Creator. Creation is the work of HIS hands and it is in these moments of awareness that we experience God. Take your eyes off your smart phone and look at the beautiful theater of life our God has placed around us!

2. God is revealed in people.
Scripture teaches that people are made in the very image of God for the purpose of reflecting his beauty and glory to the world. Every time you look into the eyes of a person, you are seeing someone whom God personally formed and knit together. When you experience the love of a spouse or the bond of a friendship, it is pointing to a greater love and stronger bond found in knowing God.

In C.S. Lewis’ classic book, The Weight of Glory, he puts it this way:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

Take time in your day to actually SEE people. Contemplate on the fact that each person you come into contact with is a masterpiece formed by the Creator.

3. God is revealed in Scripture.
All of us yearn to hear God’s voice. Yet so often, our Bibles (if we have one) are covered with dust in the back of a neglected bookshelf. We often forget about one of the greatest gifts the Creator has endowed on His people. The Bible is a beautiful story of God’s love for sinful humanity.

Not only is the Bible a beautiful piece of literature, it is the Word of God. Scripture is not a lifeless, religious textbook. God presently speaks and encourages people through the power of His Word.

If you want to meet with the Creator, spend time on a daily basis soaking in the presence of His Spirit by meditating upon the Scriptures.


The God of the Universe desires to speak to us far more than we are willing to listen. I would encourage you to live each “ordinary” day with eyes wide open, catching glimpses of God in creation, people, and Scripture.

 

Behind The Song: Peace of Mind

peace of mind

As many of you know, I write and produce original music as a hobby. I took a long break from music (over two years) before I released “Peace of Mind” in April of 2015.

In that two year break I…

  • Got married.
  • Became a pastor.
  • Launched the Garretson Campus of The Rescue Church.
  • Went back to school.
  • Was humbled by God.

Those two years were incredibly rewarding and yet deeply stressful. I learned that ministry is both beautiful AND brutal.

It was a season of God humbling me through my circumstances. For example, in the process of launching the Garretson Campus, I struggled with severe insecurity and minor depression. In the midst of conflict and spiritual warfare, I felt as if God had abandoned me and I wanted to quit ministry entirely.

I was only married for roughly five months before I began ministry (I do not recommend this!). This gave me the added pressure of trying to be a faithful husband while pioneering a church launch. I made many mistakes in this time and longed for God to rescue me.

Regardless of my feelings, God never abandoned me. He was and is completely faithful.

“Peace of Mind” was inspired by a beautiful passage in Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

I have a tendency to be overly introspective and consumed with myself. Every time my perspective moves inward and I am solely focused on my pain, I become depressed. When I do this, I can easily forget the presence and power of God. When this happens, I rush to God in prayer. After spending time in His presence, the Holy Spirit always provides me with an incredible sense of peace and stillness.

My circumstances do not change, my perspective does.

As you finish listening to this song, I would encourage you to present YOUR requests to God. The peace of God WILL guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. It is a promise!!

(If you are viewing this in your e-mail, you will have to go to the actual page in order to hear the song)

Verse 1 (Tyler Ramsbey)
It’s been awhile since I picked up a pen
To write a whole song people wondering where I’ve been
Well listen up… While I’m staring at them
I’ve been, in a place where the pain won’t end
I’ve struggled with, bitterness I didn’t wanna repent
Been on my knees before God saying this gotta end
I said I quit through the tears I didn’t know what to pray
But thank, you that you intercede in my place
It’s all grace, I’ve been so forgiven
Yet I cling to my sin and I choke on venom
At my best, I’m a broken Christian
Yet I know you listen and You hold me with Him
I don’t get it though, why did you bring me low?
Why did you bring all the stress and press on my bitter soul
Invisible, is how I felt when I was miserable
I finna go, to my God cuz I’m minimal, listen though

Chorus (Sean Divine)
Thanks for giving me peace of mind
You were always there for me lately
You’ve been given me all this time
Even when I thought I might go crazy
The stress of my mind let it all fade away
No time to waste just thankful for another day
(X2)

Verse 2 (Tyler Ramsbey)
If you know Christ then you know peace
If there’s no Christ then there’s no peace
So please… focus
‘Cuz the day is coming that you will be broken
As long as you are walking on the earth you are homeless
What I mean is by the King you’ve been purchased
But in the eyes of the world you are worthless
So don’t be surprised cuz the fires are certain
You may even die but your life’s for purpose
And not even death can make you step out of worship
Every breath that you get you don’t deserve it
So it’s urgent, you stay alert with
All diligence while His peace guards your mind
Release all your lies, He is alive
Tell em Jesus is God, your freedom He bought
So let’s cling to the Rock and sing that we got the peace that won’t stop!

Chorus (Sean Divine)
Thanks for giving me peace of mind
You were always there for me lately
You’ve been given me all this time
Even when I thought I might go crazy
The stress of my mind let it all fade away
No time to waste just thankful for another day
(X2)

Verse 3 (Tyler Ramsbey)
It surpasses all understanding
And we know that we know that we’ll never be abandoned
You are the Father, we are your family
We are the heirs of Christ we keep standing

It surpasses all understanding
And we know that we know that we’ll never be abandoned
You are the Father, we are your family
We are the heirs of Christ we keep standing


Enjoy the song? Be sure to head to the “Recent Music” page for more!